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Life Expectancy in Sri LankaSri Lanka is a country that used to be torn by civil war. Now, thanks to peace and foreign investment, the country is making major strides towards improving the lives of its citizens. Below are seven facts about how life expectancy in Sri Lanka is improving.

7 Facts about Life Expectancy in Sri Lanka

  1. Life expectancy in Sri Lanka is currently 77.1 years. The life expectancy for males is 73.7 and is 80.8 for females. This is an increase of more than seven years from 20 years ago.
  2. The country’s three-decade civil war resulted in thousands of deaths including more than 7,000 in the final months. However, since the war ended in 2009, the country has been able to stabilize and improve economic conditions.
  3. Since 2006 the percent of people living in poverty has decreased from 15.3 percent to 4 percent. This decrease in poverty has been in large part due to the improving economy in Sri Lanka which registered an average economic growth rate of 5.8 percent from 2010 to 2017. The correlation between poverty and life expectancy is clear. When one is out of poverty and has more resources, they are able to live longer lives.
  4. Children are being immunized against disease at a 99 percent rate. Children have access to immunizations leading to a lower rate of children dying of preventable diseases. They can live longer and happier lives without worrying about diseases such as measles, hepatitis and DPT.
  5. Sri Lanka is focused on educating its youth, by seeking foreign investment. For instance, in 2017, the country secured a $100 million loan from the World Bank in order to enhance the quality of degree programs and boost STEM enrollment and research opportunities at the university level. The country’s investments are paying off as Sri Lanka has the highest reported youth literacy rate in South Asia at 98.77 percent versus India (89.66) and Bangladesh (83.2 percent).
  6. The under-5 mortality rate is less than 10 percent. The under-5 mortality rate broke below 10 percent in 2014 and has been declining since 2005. In fact, the under-5 mortality rate stood at more than 20 percent less than two decades ago. CARE and the Red Cross are two organizations that have been especially focused on improved health care services since the 1950s.
  7. The U.N. projects that the life expectancy rate will exceed 80 years within the next 20 years. However, as the Minister of External Affairs noted at a U.N. conference in 2014, “with…increased life expectancy, we are facing new challenges, namely the incidence of NCDs, a growing aging population by 2030, addressing issues facing young people and containing the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

Sri Lanka is a great example of a country that shows what can happen with peace and investment. Their economy is growing and with it, the people’s lives are improving not only in quality but also in length.

– Josh Fritzjunker and Kim Thelwell
Photo: Flickr

New law hopes to attract new business to Angola
The future is bright for business in Angola. A new president and a new law are set to open the doors for foreign investment and more opportunities for the people in the country.

The country recently passed a new Private Investment Law. This Angola business law is set to attract lucrative businesses to the nation.

Angola Business Law

The unanimously passed Private Investment Law opens Angola’s doors to foreign investment that had previously been impeded by difficult requirements and country’s bad reputation.

The old law mandated that any foreign investor that partners with a local company or natural person has to have at least a 35 percent stake in the proposed business or investment. This requirement was intended to help Angolans partner with foreigners but turned out to be a restrictive factor for carrying out investments in the country.

To help aid international business, the new Angola business law removes the minimum amount of investment. Foreigners can now invest in Angola without paying in the hefty $1 million minimum, which was also one big barrier. The law also requires that foreign investors hire Angolan workers and provide a discrimination-free environment with good salaries, job training and a healthy environment.

The Work Behind the Law

The new Angola business law is all part of President Joao Lourenco’s plan for developing the country as an economic miracle.

After being elected and ousting former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power for nearly four decades, Lourenco promised to attract foreign investment. In recent years, the country has struggled due to its lack of a diversified economy. The country heavily relies on selling crude oil externally, as oil accounts for more than 90 percent of all exports.

Ever since a decrease in oil prices, Angola has struggled to remain competitive. The new law makes business more open to foreigners and will ideally attract new businesses that can hire Angolans and bring capital to Angola’s economy.

The Fight Against Corruption

Lourenco ran his campaign on the promise of fighting corruption within Angola’s government, but he is also very committed to helping business thrive in his country.

“We are very committed to removing a major obstacle to doing business in Angola, which is the so-called phenomenon of corruption,” he told in an interview with Euronews. “So, this is a struggle that is difficult, it will take some time but we are prepared to face this giant problem of corruption and we are sure that we will win.”

By opening his country for foreign business and tackling barriers, he encourages large corruptions and wealthy investors to consider Angola.

Chairman and CEO of ABO Capital, Zandre Campos, is particularly encouraged by the law. He stated that the future is bright for Angola’s economy and its investment opportunities. All of the elements included in the law can greatly contribute to the growth of businesses, research, and trade, which is crucial for the country.

The world should watch Angola in the coming months to see if this law attracts foreign business and helps the nation build its economy. If nothing else, parliament’s nonpartisan stand and President Lourenco’s work thus far are very encouraging for the country.

With the new Angola business law, the future looks bright for Angola’s economy and workers.

– Sarah Stanley

Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Guinea
Guinea is one of the world’s most impoverished countries. More than half of its population lives below the poverty line and 17.5 percent struggle for food security. In 2010, Guinea established its first elected, civilian government. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Guinea and its strong economic potential. Assistance with Guinea’s health, stability and effective governance is not only deeply needed by Guinea, but also something from which the U.S. ultimately gains.

Strong Economic Potential

Guinea has rich mineral resources, possessing over half of the world’s bauxite (aluminum ore) reserves. The country is also abundant in high-grade iron ore, diamonds, gold and uranium. The mining sector in Guinea is thus a major part of its economy: about 80 percent of Guinea’s foreign exchanges consist of joint-venture bauxite mining and alumina operations. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG), one of the major two routes for exporting Guinea’s bauxite, is a venture jointly owned by the Government of Guinea, a U.S. company called Alcoa, and an Anglo-Australian company Rio Tinto Group. The other major export force is Chinese conglomerates as well as small and midsize business.

Guinea is also blessed with reliable rainfall, abundant sunshine and natural geography that are favorable for renewable energy. The 240MW Kaleta Dam project, constructed and financed by China, began operating in 2015 and has since more than doubled Guinea’s electricity supply. The country’s climate means that it has great potential for commercial agriculture as well.

Investment Friendly

Pressed to improve development, Guinea has been increasingly open to foreign investment. The country’s government has been depleted of financial resources to improve the economy, especially since the Ebola outbreak in 2014-2015. Meanwhile, enterprises in Guinea are in need of more credit than is available.

In 2016, the government launched a new website via the Investment Promotion Agency of Guinea (APIP). The website is meant to promote transparency and help make investments more smooth. The APIP also offers services to foreign investors, including creating and registering businesses, helping with access to benefits of the new investment code, providing information and research studies to interested investors, etc.

The Guinea government does not allow any foreign investor to own media in the country, but besides that, there are no restrictions discriminating against foreign investors. The U.S. also helped a group of foreign investors in Guinea and the government of Guinea form a liaison in 2015.

Barriers to Overcome

While Guinea has extremely investment-friendly laws, the enforcement of those laws needs a stable political environment and a reliable legal system. It is worth noting the country had its first democratically-elected government in 2010 after the country’s independence in 1958, but state institutions are still recovering from two years of rule by the military junta. It’s also faced a number of security and socio-economic vulnerabilities.

Guinea has a disproportionately large military with serious, deep corruption and human rights abuses. It is also feared by law enforcement because of the potential for military revolt. Even though a panel was formed in 2010 to investigate the violent crushing of tens of thousands of peaceful democracy protesters in 2009, two military commanders that the U.N. revealed to be guilty were able to keep their government positions.

Aid for Stability and Development

U.S. foreign aid would directly address barriers to private sector growth as well as improvement of economic life in Guinea in general. For one thing, the U.S. supported the 2010 election process significantly, which has greatly improved the country’s development prospects.

U.S. foreign aid was restricted in 2008 and 2009 due to the rise of the military coup at the time, but restrictions were lifted after the country’s political transformation. Aid from the U.S. helps improve democratic practices, governance, security sector reform, regional peace and stability, etc. These aspects of society are essential for the alleviation of poverty and the establishment of a solid economic infrastructure. A peaceful Guinea is also viewed as significant for restraining conflict in a region already plagued by political tension and armed struggles.

The Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening, supervised by the USAID, supported the 2015 presidential election and 2018 communal elections. It strengthened Guinea’s Independent National Electoral Commission as well as civil society organizations in monitoring the domestic election.

Ultimately, U.S. foreign aid will assist with areas of life in Guinea that in turn presents a great economic potential for the U.S. In other words, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Guinea.

– Feng Ye
Photo: Google

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to JamaicaJamaica faces many economic struggles and is often in need of foreign aid. For the past five years, the U.S. has been the biggest provider of foreign aid and investment in the country. The aid is valuable for both countries as the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica in many ways.

Tourism

Although a popular destination for travelers, Jamaica faces many economic issues, including high unemployment rates, crime and corruption. The country is also prone to natural disasters. Although tourism helps support the economy of Jamaica, it is not enough to sustain it.

Jamaica believes that foreign aid and investment is a key aspect of growing its economy and has made governmental reforms to better accept and use these funds. This makes the funding process easier for countries like the U.S. and provides greater assurance that the funds will be allocated and implemented properly.

The way the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica far outweighs the risk of investing in the county. Jamaica is a major economic partner to the U.S. The country is already a major tourist destination with developed infrastructure. Jamaica’s infrastructure boasts world-class transportation on land, air and sea, as well as a developed telecommunications system.

Funding toward the tourism sector would only strengthen it further, improving Jamaica’s economy. This, in turn, would help provide for Jamaica’s funders. This includes the countries that directly fund it through foreign aid, as well as those investing privately through businesses. These businesses include tourism but also focus on a variety of other fields such agribusiness, mining, energy and manufacturing.

Investing in Business

There are many ways in which Jamaica has made investing more accessible to countries like the U.S. and helped to ensure that both countries benefit as much as they can from it. One example is the improvement of credit access, which makes the starting of a business more accessible in consideration of price, especially for the electricity sector. It also affects how businesses are taxed and generally start-ups have a lower tax. Improved credit access provides the opportunity for more businesses to be formed and for more investments to be made toward them.

Democratic Ally

Another way the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica is through similar political interests. The government of Jamaica is already a prime example of democracy, having elections every five years. Continuing aid and investment in the country will only help improve it. Jamaica is a democratic ally to the U.S., which not only benefits both countries politically but also economically. As aid continues to grow and both countries benefit from one another, this will serve to further an alliance between them.

There are many ways in which the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Jamaica, which is an incredibly beneficial country to invest in. Not only has government reform made it easy to fund and aid the country but also provides many ways for businesses and their investors to flourish. Jamaica is a strong economic benefit and ally to the U.S., as well as a great representative of democracy. A partnership and alliance will continue to grow between the two countries with the continued support of the U.S.

– Keegan Struble

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to GuineaA West African country bordering the North Atlantic Ocean that has been called potentially one of Africa’s richest, Guinea is a mineral-rich state with a population that is among the poorest in Africa. Humanitarian aid to Guinea is an important step in improving the livelihoods of Guineans.

Situated between Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone, Guinea is home to about a third of the world’s bauxite reserves which have not been smelted and refined into aluminum largely owing to the political instability in the country. Chronic underdevelopment has also angered many locals who have, in desperation, disrupted operations at the country’s mines to bring attention to their plight.

According to the U.S. State Department’s Office of Investment Affairs, Guinea suffers from “persistent corruption and fiscal management.” However, the country is not only resource-rich but also filled with economic potentials in the energy and the agricultural sector.

With over four billion tons of untapped high-grade iron ore, abundant rainfall, gold and diamond reserves, off-shore oil reserves and indeterminate amounts of uranium, Guinea has many economic drivers. The country’s natural geography also makes it very hospitable to renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric dams and turbines.

In May 2015, the 240 megawatt Kaleta Dam project was built after a $526 million investment by China. Kaleta more than doubled the country’s electricity supply and encouraged the government to seek aid for more energy infrastructure, mainly in the solar and hydroelectric sector.

According to USAID, Guinea suffered heavy losses to its economical revenue and outlook in the wake of the Ebola outbreak. Many widespread preventable and treatable diseases, such as malaria, prevail in the country and infant and maternal mortality rates remain very high. Furthermore, the agricultural sector is not able to completely function to provide the much-needed source of income and revenue for the people and the government.

The success of humanitarian aid to Guinea is underlined by USAID’s work in the country. In March 2015, USAID provided more than $7 million through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to improve food security and nutrition as a means to combat poverty and hunger in Guinea.

This culminated in WFP making the largest-ever purchase of locally-produced rice, which supported the local agricultural sector and provided children with meals in hundreds of schools across the country. Furthermore, farmers were educated about the business and contracting process, including working with development partners, and were encouraged to establish relationships with banks to obtain credits and rates they could use to sustain their farms.

It has been said that Guinea’s entire population of 12 million people is at risk of malaria. Malaria control efforts and prevention policies are underway in the country, but the damage is ongoing. According to the Ministry of Health, most of the hospitalizations, consultations and deaths in Guinea are a result of malaria.

Aid organizations such as Plan International have been working for decades to provide humanitarian aid to Guinea. Plan International improves children’s access to health, education and sanitation. This is done by ensuring that sustainable, quality education is provided to all children. Children are afforded access to clean water and sanitation facilities. Furthermore, a safe environment designed to empower children is nurtured.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Guinea actively helps vulnerable people and migrants to resettle in other countries by advocating on their behalf and lending support at every step of the resettlement process, including performing medical health assessments on behalf of the resettlement countries. Funding for IOM Guinea is mainly provided by the same governments of resettlement countries, and the international community can and should support the efforts of these countries.

With more humanitarian aid to Guinea, this resource-rich country certainly carries the potential to infuse its wealth of resources into the livelihoods of all Guineans.

– Mohammed Khalid

Photo: Flickr

OPIC Budget CutsPresident Trump’s budget proposal is significant for its massive budget cuts. One agency that would be axed in this proposal is the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Critics are now defending this little-known agency, and argue that the OPIC is crucial for fighting global poverty and improving U.S. relations with the world.

The OPIC may not receive much press coverage, but it does quite a lot with a budget of $82 billion. The agency’s main goal is to incentivize American investment in developing nations through providing loans and risk insurance to American investors. Since its inception in 1971, the OPIC built a portfolio that assisted the investment of more than $250 billion in upwards of 4,000 projects.

Of course, one may ask why the U.S. should encourage investment abroad. One reason is that it generates wealth and work for both Americans and those living in developing countries. In total, OPIC-funded projects produced over 275,000 jobs for Americans and generated more than $75 billion in U.S. exports. Much of this wealth is built by American small businesses. Seventy-seven percent of OPIC funding goes to small and medium-sized businesses. Investment in developing nations also combats global poverty and creates more viable trading partners. The proposed OPIC budget cuts could make it much harder for American businesses to create these opportunities.

The OPIC also made great returns on its loans. OPIC doesn’t cost the taxpayer a dime because the agency generated profits for 37 years. The money made goes to reducing the deficit, and the OPIC budget cuts would actually result in a loss of $2.2 billion over the next 10 years.

OPIC’s activities also help U.S. national security. It’s well-known that economic growth and political stability are often tied together. When economies are booming, nations are more stable. When markets plummet, conflict begins to rise. Foreign investment aided by agencies like OPIC can make developing nations less hospitable to extremist groups that would do harm to the U.S.

Members of Congress like Republican Senator Lindsay Graham took note of the impact U.S. dollars abroad can have on national security. Graham states, “the worst nightmare for Al-Qaeda is to come into a community that feels supported and has hope…The way I look at it is, it’s national security insurance that we’re buying.”

The Trump administration supports the proposed OPIC budget cuts because they claim that the agency distorts the free market and creates a crowding out effect that reduces private investment. Supporters of the OPIC challenged this and claim there is no evidence that the OPIC has been distorting the market.

Carson Hughes

Photo: Google

 

z1_world_globe_borgen_africa
In the past decade, Ethiopia has opened its doors to foreign investment. Fashion retailer H&M and Walmart already have factories there, or plan to build them. There are also proposals to build the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which will be a source of hydropower and accelerate agriculture development.

For Africa’s second most populous country, this will spur an economy that has traditionally been state-led and isolated.

These investments have already had positive impacts beyond their monetary value. Due to financial and economic stability, women are now having fewer children than before. Literacy rates are on the rise, and infant mortality rates have fallen by half.

Just over three years ago, the world’s population crossed the 7 billion mark. By 2100, the United Nations projects that the world population will be roughly 9.1 billion. With distress over resources and a changing climate, overpopulation is a growing concern among world leaders.

While the populations of Europe and North America are beginning to stabilize, Africa is still experiencing accelerated growth. The United Nations cites economic development and the education of woman as solutions to slowing fertility rates.

It has already worked in Ethiopia.

The average number of children women have has fallen from 6.5 to 4.8 in just a decade. In the capital, Addis Ababa, one of the most developed regions in the country, women are now having the replacement level number of children — two.

Although Ethiopia’s fertility rate ensures population growth for the foreseeable future, there remains some hope. Over 64% of Ethiopia’s population is 25-years-old or younger. As this demographic enters an economy catalyzed by foreign investment, continued development will lift many out of poverty, thus slowing the fertility rate even further.

With continued investment, the fertility rate could plummet to 2.5 by 2030.

Ethiopia’s population is well on its way to being sustainable by 2050. International investment works and it is essential if poverty-ridden regions want to experience the success Ethiopia is currently having.

– Kevin Meyers
Sources: CIA, CNBC Africa PRB UN
Photo: U of T Magazine

kenya's security
Kenya’s security is tenuous regardless of the country’s first effort to raise foreign capital, primarily from European and American investors, through the use of a Eurobond.

A Eurobond is a bond issued in a currency not belonging to the country in which it is issued, in this case the Euro. The effort was seen as a success, the bond attracting many large investors and bringing in $2 billion dollars regardless of the country only aiming to raise $1.5 billion.

This economic success is a direct reflection of the confidence many investors have in the growth Kenya is experiencing. Kenya’s economy is a diverse one, not based entirely on one product, meaning chances of it failing are minimal and the opportunity for growth very high.

Regardless of this foreign investment, the people of Kenya have been living in fear, questioning Kenya’s security and experiencing rising unemployment and prices. This is a direct result of terrorist attacks that seem to be growing almost as quickly as the country’s economy is. These terror attacks have had a very negative impact on the tourism industry in Kenya. The U.S., UK, Australia, Canada and France have even gone so far as to upgrade their terror warnings for the country.

The most recent attack occurred last week in Mpeketoni, a small Kenyan coastal town, when Somali extremists stormed the town killing a total of 48 people.

These rising prices, unemployment rates and concerns for security have helped spark protests by opposition leaders. One of these leaders, Raila Odinga, said “I’m not talking small protests, I’m talking massive.”

These protests are only agitated by the governance of the country under president Uhuru Kenyatta, whose most recent desire to create a nationwide neighborhood watch was compared to a nationwide organization of government spies by some critics.

Many Kenyan’s also feel the current government is a flawed one, primarily being run like an ethnocracy. This means that the politics of the country and its leaders are mostly based along ethnic lines rather than those best for the people.

It’s clear that regardless of growing cities and foreign investment, Kenya’s people aren’t seeing the benefits. With growing unrest among its people and an ineffective government in charge, many wonder if a social revolution might be underway.

– David Clark

Sources: New York Times, TIME, BBC
Photo: BBC News

Cuban Economic Growth
For decades, Cuba kept itself off the radar and rarely allowed access to the United States. However, Raul Castro, brother to the infamous Fidel Castro and current leader of Cuba, has recently allowed small changes to make an impact on Cuba.

After years of economic isolation and little internal growth, Castro faces a difficult job in making up for lost time. Small programs like the Cuban Emprende make a world of difference as community leaders learn how to grow their small businesses into larger, more modern companies, leading the way for Cuban economic growth.

The distribution of wealth in Cuba is skewed, with the poor representing a large portion of the population. The average Cuban worker earns around $20 a month, and little has changed in the past 50 years. Cuba has now opened the doors to looking into private investments, a monumental step in the direction of globalization.

In the past, Cuba was mostly affiliated with Latin and South America. By allowing other countries, such as the U.S., into the Cuban system, the people of Cuba are looking at a brighter economic future.

However, members of U.S. Congress seem tentative about whether this Cuban economic growth and reform are benefiting the labor rights as well as human rights of the population. Raul Castro has yet to make clear how the people are being affected by this change in internal government, so outsiders are weary of possible retribution. It is unclear as to how the U.S. will react to these changes and opening up foreign investment. Since the revolution of Cuba in the 1960s, the U.S. has not been allied with Cuba.

Chamber President Thomas Donahue recently visited the island for the first time in 15 years. He reports positive change in the direction of free enterprise, fewer government jobs and increased private hiring. Cubans are seeing a better daily life as companies begin to modernize and improve the impoverished neighborhoods as jobs become more readily available.

Raul Castro has recently implemented programs teaching Cubans how to successfully operate small businesses and create meaningful business relationships. Programs such as this offer the lower class an opportunity to support themselves in the realm of business and become potential business partners as foreign investors start to peer into Cuba’s economy.

Cuba is still in the early stages of change as its people adjust to the government’s new approach, but current conditions are looking promising as people find their new niches in a budding economy.

– Elena Lopez

Sources: Reuters, NY Times, TIME
Photo: InterNations

rwandan_genocide_20_years_later_child_opt
It was only twenty years ago that the now infamous “Genocide Fax” was sent, a detailed letter to the United Nations headquarters in New York explaining the brewing events leading up to the mass slaughter that we now know as the Rwandan Genocide.

The letter, sent by the then-Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), General Romeo Dallaire, explained that ethnic Hutu extremists were stockpiling weapons and distributing them to the militias. An informant had also revealed to him that “he has been ordered to register all Tutsi in Kigali” in preparation “for their extermination.” These harrowing discoveries prompted Dallaire to contact UN headquarters, convinced that it was necessary to act. The final line of the letter read, ‘Peux ce que veux. Allons-y,’ translating to ‘Where there is a will there is a way. Let’s go.’

The UN however, decided against acting. Then-Head of UN Peacekeeping Operations, Kofi Annan, instructed Dallaire to essentially do nothing, as “unanticipated repercussions” could ensue.

The repercussions that Dallaire anticipated did ensue, following the tragic plane attack that killed then-President Habyarimana just three months later.

Then came the horrifying Rwandan genocide that claimed nearly one million lives in less than 100 days.

Twenty years later the nation has far surpassed anyone’s expectations. Due to an onslaught of foreign aid and a revitalized Rwandan pride, the country has built itself back and shows no signs of stopping.

Under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, more than one million Rwandans have lifted themselves out of poverty and nearly all children attend school. Investment has nearly tripled since 2005 and economic opportunities abound. Malaria deaths have fallen more than 85 percent, and nine out of every 10 Rwandans claim that they “trust in the leadership of their country.” The transformations that Rwanda has made are far from over, as the country aims to be a middle-income nation by 2020.

These achievements prove just how much can be accomplished in the face of adversity. The Rwandan people have lifted their country out of despair and created a beacon of hope to all of those who still suffer under the dark cloud of genocide.

Not only that, but they have taught us a valuable lesson.

We have a responsibility as human beings to protect each other from such mass atrocities. Unfortunately, the United Nations learned this in a painful way. However, they have now been at the forefront of putting a stop to genocides in countries such as Libya, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Twenty years later we remember all of those who lost their lives in the Rwandan genocide, and we thank them for the valuable lesson that we now must put into practice.

Mollie O’Brien

Sources: The Guardian, The Huffington Post
Photo: Global Solutions